Women who take iron supplements during pregnancy lower their risk for having a baby with autism, according to a study from the University of California, Davis. Maternal iron intake during pregnancy was compared to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) risk in 520 pairs of mothers and children with autism and 346 pairs of mothers and their normal-development children. The researchers assessed maternal iron intake, including multi supplements, fortified breakfast cereals, and other supplements during the three months prior to conception to the end of each mother’s pregnancy and during breast-feeding. Results showed that iron intake and use of iron-containing supplements reported by mothers of autistic children was lower than that reported by mothers of normal-development children, especially for the months before and during early pregnancy, as well as during breast-feeding. Those children whose mothers had consumed optimal amounts of iron throughout pregnancy had up to a 51% lower risk for having ASD.
Schmidt R, Tancredi D, Krakowiak P, et al: Maternal intake of supplemental iron and risk of autism spectrum disorder. American Journal of Epidemiology 2014;180:890-900.